Archive for the 'kosher restaurant review' Category

23
Dec
12

Nobo Wine & Grill


Teaneck’s Nobo Wine & Grill (1400 Palisade Avenue; Teaneck, NJ 07666, Telephone: 201.837.1000), never ceases to amaze and delight. Under the direction of Executive Chef Josh Massin (formerly of Manhattan’s Mike’s Bistro), this restaurant which we reviewed before – with a different chef and a different name, though still under the same owners – redefines the meaning of “succulent.” This past Tuesday, the incomparable Lévana, treated SYR and I to this eatery.

We started our culinary adventure by sharing three appetizers: Big Eye Tuna Nicoise

kosher-scene-copyright-copy21

Big Eye Tuna Nicoise - Olive oil poach tuna, with assorted olives, capers, hard-boiled egg, frisee, cinfit campari tomatoes, raw honey emulsion, fried bread & red wine vinegar syrup.

Big Eye Tuna Nicoise – Olive oil poach tuna, with assorted olives, capers, hard-boiled egg, frisee, cinfit campari tomatoes, raw honey emulsion, fried bread & red wine vinegar syrup.

Traditional Cassoulet

Traditional Cassoulet - Bean stew with duck confit, veal sausage, veal bacon & roasted bone marrow on the side.

Traditional Cassoulet – Bean stew with duck confit, veal sausage, veal bacon & roasted bone marrow on the side.

…and Wild Mushroom Risotto. The tuna in syrup, tasted heavenly with a subtle citrusy flavor and sides that perfectly complemented it; the cassoulet was quite reminiscent of a fine cholent, in fact Chef Josh told us that cholent (or chaud lent) was most likely based on this French delicacy. The marrow bone was – for me – a superb touch, after all as a kid I used to fight my dad for these bones. After all these years, after all the changes in palette, nothing compares to a great marrow bone. Hmm, hmm!  The risotto came with parsley puree, salamesian and white truffle oil, strongly flavored and delicious!

We then proceeded to share three mains: Boneless Braised BBQ Short Ribs

Boneless Braised BBQ short Ribs - with roasted garlic & rutabaga mash, smoky cannellini beans, leek sauce, maple syrup infused barbeque sauce.

Boneless Braised BBQ short Ribs – with roasted garlic & rutabaga mash, smoky cannellini beans, leek sauce, maple syrup infused barbeque sauce.

The short ribs, and sides, brought in a beautiful tapestry of perfectly balanced flavors and tender, juicy meat!

We then proceeded with a Crispy Skin Poached Dark Skin Meat Chicken, it consisted of smoky white wine, braised savoy cabbage, local Rusian fingerling potatoes, chicken sausage dumplings, braised leeks, red pepper aioli and garlic crouton. Incredibly flavorful with an orangey taste, and very juicy. We loved it!

But the pièce de résistance was the Butcher’s Cut Steak, not on the regular menu and not always available, it was recommended by the Chef. Cooked sous vide* it came with sauteed haricot vert and Yukon Gold potatoes. It came medium rare, it was superbly tasty, soft like butter and very juicy.

We washed it all down with Segal Merlot 2011, it was adequate without being overpowering

For dessert, in a tremendous display of self restraint, we shared a single Peanut Butter Chocolate torte, with a Lace Cookie and a Cinnamon Ice Cream. Ahhh, a perfect cap to a perfect meal!

A perfect ending!

Just the right ending!

With a very attentive, unassuming Chef, great food, superb company and just the right ambiance… who can ask for more?

CS

*Sous Vide – From the French “under vacuum.” The ingredients are slowly cooked (for as long as 72 hours) in a water bath – while sealed in airtight plastic – as a result the natural juices and flavors stayed undiluted with whatever ingredient is so cooked. The reason for this method of cooking is to cook the item evenly, without overcooking the outside as the inside gets the same amount of donenness, with all around juicier results. Meat, using this method is cooked between 131F. to 140F. Vegetables need a higher temperature.

19
Jul
12

Revisiting Sòlo


When you have a meeting, date or get together over food that needs to go flawlessly, Sòlo (550 Madison Avenue; New York, NY 10022; Telephone: 212.833.7800 – in the atrium of the SONY building) is the place to be. A swank counterpart to the high tech-upscale Sony building and atrium it’s located in, Sòlo is what contemporary high class chic tastes like. From its sleek artsy glass exterior wall – flanked through by oil with infused vegetables – down to its impeccably styled up-scale food presentation, Sòlo defines high quality cuisine; the fact that it’s under strict kosher supervision is sub-rosa fringe to its superb fare and service.

Chef-de-cuisine Guillermo Quiroz, trained by Chef David Kolotkin was just a delightful; the look of pride as he brought and explained each dish, knowing without a doubt we would be as pleased to eat as he was to present it, added to the experience.

We stated our feast with a Big Eye Tuna Tartar accompanied by avocado, citrus, mango and chips. It was very fresh, succulent, and not in the least bit fishy tasting (a great start to a great meal!).

We followed with another appetizer, Crispy Veal Sweetbreads, it came with celery root and Bosc pear puree, Swiss chard in a pomegranate reduction. Since I do not – on principle – eat veal, CS had it all to himself. Considering he cleaned the plate, I believed him when he described it as “superbly spiced, and absolutely delicious.”

Beef Carpaccio with spinach and grilled endive salad in a mustard and lemon vinaigrette came next. Well seasoned, beautifully presented, just perfect.

Next, came the pièce de résistance. We got the Roasted BBQ Short Ribs, sides were German potato salad and cauliflower puree. They reminded me of Mike’s Bistro‘s ribs. Sauce and flavors were excellent, the beef superbly tender, yet not overcooked.

Typical Uruguayan that he is, CS preferred the 8 oz Black Angus Steak au Poivre (available in 16 oz. as well), with caramelized onion puree, basil mash potatoes, and grilled asparagus in a red wine sauce. It was very flavorful, the crisp pepper top was just right, I just loved the wine sauce and onion puree combo. It’s hard to believe that in spite of its flavor, in spite of its tenderness, it was not aged meat.

The last main was a Pan Seared Black Angus Filet with turnip puree, mushroom ragout and fingerling potatoes in red wine sauce. Superb fare!

We washed it all down with a very good Binyamina Shiraz 2007, served to us by our favorite waiter, the multi-talented Eka Halim (he’s a professional photographer, as comfortable on a fashion shoot as on a bar mitzvah!). CS described the wine thus, “Deep garnet in color, medium bodied with soft tannins and a gentle wood influence. Smooth, round wine with blackberry and plum notes, with hints of tar and licorice.”

For dessert we shared two incredible creations by Pastry Chef Felencia Darius, now at Prime Butcher Baker. Warm Chocolate Cake with gingerbread ice cream and espresso sauce, the molten chocolate cake was superb and so was the sauce, but I expected more from the ice cream.

The evening’s crown, however, belongs to the Hazelnut Rocher, a hazelnut mousse with vanilla cream and a candied nut shell. Take my advise, folks, do not even think of leaving Sòlo without trying this one!

We had reservations for 6:00pm, by the time we finished at around 7:30pm there was not a single free table, not even in the private alcove we were in. People obviously know what’s good.

Though it was a superb dinner, and one that guarantees we’ll keep on revisiting again and again, we do have a minor criticism. We wish the presentations, as beautiful as they were, showed less repetitiveness.

SYR

Both Sòlo and its sister restaurant Prime Grill have a

Nine Day Menu.

10
Mar
11

Kaizen! Perfection at Prime Ko


Have you ever had one of those microcosmic moments in time encapsulating a window onto something so much bigger in its depth and substance? Though most of mine have not been food moments, this one surely was this past week at the Japanese inspired restaurant Prime Ko (217 West 85th Street New York, NY 10024-3901 - (212) 496-1888) when I tasted Chef Makoto Kameyama’s signature sushi Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna appetizer. But more about that in a moment…

CS and I were escorted into the ground floor dining area; they’ve got a lower level with a wet bar, TV screen and more seating. Décor showed subtle Japanese influences. The waiting area had these lovely brown leather boxy ’kabuki’ shaped chairs and couch, fresh orchids on a dark rectangular table, with a wall of hand-painted coral peonies on soft aqua…

Wall dividers of slatted mahogany separated one area from another; windows were shaded with white bamboo semi-transparent treatments. Seating was brown textured suede on wood, a few striped suede backed benches, all tucked into square darkwood tables. Settings consisted of simple white geometric china, flatware laid out on deep red bamboo textured placemats, and chop-sticks resting on logo enhanced wood pieces. Lighting was recessed in one area and a framed oval shaped ruched red fabric with a back lit center aperture against the far wall, with a row of rice textured globe light fixtures in the other area.

A partial view...

Esteemed Chef Makoto Kameyama, the former prized Sushi Chef at Prime Grill for the past ten years, has served as Executive Chef at Prime Ko since it opened last year. His experience began in Tokyo where he assisted his father, a prominent Edo-sushi chef running a successful restaurant in Japan. In1981, Chef Kameyama came to the US and opened his own Japanese restaurant. Transitioning to Japanese kosher posed quite a challenge. Aside from the dietary restrictions on pork, shrimp, crustaceans, etc. sourcing fine quality kosher fish for sushi and sashimi, replacing basic Japanese cooking elements like bonita flakes and dashi (made of fish bone, until recently unavailable with a kosher certification), achieving consistent textures and creating exciting sauces were but a few of the obstacles he faced.

Chef Kameyama is very pleased with healthy low fat and low cal Japanese cuisine becoming staple of the American diet. Be it the DHA and heart healthy fresh fish, lung healthy miso, or vitamin mineral-rich seaweed, it is thanks to Japanese cuisine masters like Kameyama that this healthy streamlined fare is taking the nation by storm.

Now, back to our meal… The opening appetizer was an assortment of Rainbow Roll, yellowtail, tuna, and salmon sashimi and that fabulous Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna I mentioned earlier. That was the defining moment of kaizen (Japanese for perfection) . The mouthful of toasted rice cake topped with spicy tuna pureed with bell pepper, topped with jalapeño and aioli sauce was a bite of pure perfection. The creative combination of textures and genius flavors conjoining to taste so remarkably well, spoke volumes about the artistry of a chef whose collective experience and expertise arrive at the table each time this signature dish is served. Bravo! Omedetou!

Sushi and Sashimi

But we were just getting warmed up… CS and I shared lovely grilled miso Chilean Sea Bass skewers in a spicy teriyake sauce served aside sautéed bok choy & veggies which couldn’t help but be outshined by an outstanding Tuna Delmonico, edged in breading served with jalapeño sauce, wasabi, beet and ginger sauce, with a side of soba noodles and pickled radish/onion/carrot garnish.

Tuna Delmonico

Our waiter, Al, our server, Lebron, treated us like royalty; they were friendly, efficient, informed. I thought we were getting the ‘special treatment’, but service to the tables nearby was just as extraordinary. Al, had the menu and wine pairings memorized down to the last nori seaweed bit & dot of sauce. Service was the epitome of high Japanese hospitality; water goblets refilled with Prime Ko’s own filtered carbonated water, napkins refolded, tables cleaned between courses, and soy sauce, dishes and silverware replaced with the arrival of each new dish.

We enjoyed a cleansing, refreshing Borgo Reale Pinot Grigio 2007 as we waited for our next course, a medley of kobe chopped beef dishes. We sampled Kobe Meatballs with ground ginger and garlic in miso sesame sauce, spicy Kobe Pizza - crispy dough, house made marinara topped with chopped salad & chopped wagyu. Wagyu Beef Sliders – a mini kobe hamburger with spicy aioli and teriyake sauce – completed this tasty Americanized trio.

Cutlery was replaced again with a fresh set including steak knives. I starved myself till dinner in anticipation, but this was turning out to be a most extravagant meal… The best was next! Three ounces of the most amazing Kobe/Wagyu steak resting on a slab of Himalayan salt rock witha side of white mushroom cooked at our table with a spritz of fresh lime. When quality is this good, extra spicing could only detract from it natural flavors – it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Taken before being cooked at table-side. 3 ozs of marbled beauty!

The second steak dish was a 6 oz. Grain Fed Chateau-Briand with vegetable rice served with a jalapeño/uzu/teriyake sauce, with salad and rice. The steak was so good, I would have preferred the sauce on the side.

Steak Chateau-Briand

Chef then surprised us with Eggplant Dengaku. Baked eggplant topped with miso and sesame sauce. Unusual, and superbly tasty. The evening’s crown,  came with the creative and most beautiful desert dish pictured below.

Beautiful presentation, superlative tasting

Two crepes laid out like a Japanese fan, topped with blueberries and strawberries with hot chocolate sauce, sprinkled with green tea powder and confectioner’s sugar that looked like fairy dust. Need I say more?

A brilliant meal overall. Our thanks to Chef Kameyama and the staff of Prime Ko for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

SYR

Prime Ko on Urbanspoon

21
Sep
10

Shalom Bombay


Say Namaste as you enter Shalom Bombay (344 Lexington Avenue – between 39th and 40th – New York, NY 10016 – Tel: 212.922.0224 – Fax: 212.922.0124) this exotic Indian adventure.  Above your head flows the Ganges – the life force of a nation. The environment is earthy with touches of scrolled ironwork wall pieces, and the tables are set simply- as all guests are welcomed with an introductory taste of a dish called Papri Chaat, complements of the house.

Papri Chaat

It consists of crispy crackers served with chopped potatoes, onions, parve sour cream and tamarind sauce – served cold. Mildly spicy and flavorful, it set the stage for the rest rest of the meal.

SYR and I washed and sampled their breads. SYR adored the warm, fresh from the oven Tandoori Paratha bread (a multi-layered flat whole wheat bread), while I had their just baked Onion Kulcha. Both were superb!

SYR chose a Chicken Tikka Masala, while I had their Tawa Chicken. Hers was made with barbecued chicken cooked in tomatoes and onion. Very flavorful, a bit spicey, but definitely interesting.

Tawa Chicken

Having grown up in Uruguay, I am more used to spicy food and my Chicken Tawa came with boneless pieces of chicken served with onion, bell peppers and spices. I liked it!!

We then shared their Vegetable Pakoras…

Vegetable Pakoras

…an assortment of deep-fried spinach, eggplant, cauliflower and potatoes. Frankly, cauliflower was never a favorite of mine, yet… fresh deep fried is just so good when it’s done right.

We segued with their Mixed Kabab Tandoori Platter

Mixed Kebab Tandoori Platter

It comes with an assortment of lamb, beef and chicken kababs marinated and roasted in a clay oven. We both found the various meats flavorful, tender  and wonderfully spiced.

SYR enjoyed a 2009 Herzog Selection, Chateneuf Rouge. A semi sweet, mildly fruity but dry enough wine that amply complimented her dishes. I had the 2007 Galilee Hills Segal Fusion (with 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 20% Sauvignon Blanc), with a somewhat smoky undercurrent and lots of fruitiness, I found it a perfect companion to these spicy foods.

We both finished our meals with their exotic desserts, SYR had the Rice Pudding, served with almonds, pistachios and raisins, which she found unusually tasty. I had the Moong Daal Fudge dessert – mashed lentils cooked with sugar and nuts – it was just sweet enough without being overpowering.  Kind of likea sweet version of kishka- nice and very tasty, I wish it had been a bit creamier though.

It was a great meal, coupled with good wines and great decor. We just have to come back for more, but next time I plan to have some of their Indian beers. I hear the Kingfisher is unusually tasty, spicy… just made for these type of food!

Don’t wait for monsoon season to try this superb gastronomic delight; it’s sure to become a fast favorite when you’re ready to curry favor with family and friends or spice up your evening out.

CS

Shalom Bombay on Urbanspoon

05
Jul
10

Saddle-up for Some Fine Fixins’ at Smokey Joe’s!


You don’t have to be a Texas long-horn to enjoy this round-up of superbly smoked and southern rustic Tex Mex cuisine at Smokey Joe’s (494 Cedar Lane; Teaneck, NJ. 07666; Telephone: 201.836.7427).  Décor is sun-burnt orange against ranch-rawhide woodsy panels; Marlboro manly man and stallion photos adorning the walls. Brown butcher block paper covers tables set with colorful southwestern china (don’t forget to ask Joe for doodling crayons).

A partial view of the dining area

Joe, the owner, looked for a unique niche in the market and not only found one, but honed it like an art form till it yielded a product that fills the house on a regular basis. Joe, or Yossi to his chevra, told us “Food is life; food is kodesh.” “It’s about craft and high quality. You’ve got to give it the time and attention it takes to develop.” And indeed Joe has done so. His 74” smoker (which he lovingly dubbed Dimona-2) is the nucleus of his operation, but just as important is his approach to food and business. “You’re not producing a widget or stereo; my personal commitment to making great food is a life-time journey!” “It’s also about having a good sense of hospitality when Jews come calling at your restaurant. It’s a little different than the hachnassas orchim (welcoming guests) we do at home.” Joe certainly shared that hospitality with us.

...it was hard to keep myself from reaching into that smoker... I confess...

Joe served up vittles Stephen J. Austin or Sam Houston would raise armies to fight for! The table started to fill up with outstanding home made cornbread with onion jam spread (you got to taste ‘em together to understand how awesome those flavors are together), refreshing iced tea and fresh squeezed lemon-ade and home made. Still warm tortilla chip (seriously, dangerously, addictive!) with freshly made guacamole for starters.

We were then treated to an assortment of Smokey Joe’s favorites. The Joe Dawg, the lamb merguez sausages, were marvelous; superbly smoked and flavored.

Lamb Merguez Joe Dawg

They’ve got six types to choose from, it wasn’t easy deciding which to try…

We then demolished their Beef Brisket (well… really… CS did, he kindly let me have one forkful before it was gone!) – smoked for up to 14 hours. The smoked taste did not overpower the brisket taste which was rich, marvelous. In a very uncharacteristic (well you saw the pictures of those ribs, how can you blame me?) uninhibited Flinstonian way, I dug into their long ribs which had been basted in a secret BBQ rub and smoked for around 5 hours in Dimona-2. (Surely, not first date action, unless you want to provide an instant inhibitions dissolver, right from the get-go) They were meaty, packed with flavor and delicious. I literally felt the spices coming through my pores. Quite unexpectedly, my favorite smoked entrée was the chicken.

Brisket, Grilled Chicken and Sweet Potato... mmm, mmm!

I just loved the way the subtle smokey flavor worked its way into the soft flesh of the chicken resulting in a fabulous taste. We had no room for their burgers and chocolate mole sauce, which we heard are outstanding. We’ll have to come back and try those as well as some of their other popular dishes.

A great homey place to come with family and friends to chill an’ enjoy southern smokin’ Jewish hospitality.

SYR

Smokey Joe's on Urbanspoon

10
Jun
10

La Carne Grill


Enticed by the glowing review this restaurant garnered in 2007 in The Jewish Press, a 2007 mention in The New York Blueprint, a nice review and slide show in New York Magazine and quite a few others – along the same vein – we couldn’t wait to try Eddie Allaham’s eatery. Knowing Eddie was one of the original owners and the creator of Prime Grill’s concept, made our mouths water in anticipation of visiting La Carne Grill (340 Lexington Ave; New York, NY 10016; 212.490.7172). Daniel Ronay (whom readers of our blog have met before, came along this time in place of SYR who couldn’t make it).

The main dining area...

Daniel started the meal with Crispy Sweatbreads, they came with an olive tapenade and mustard aoili. He described them as nicely crispy and flavorful without being overpowering.

I opted for the Garlic Baby Artichokes, which consists of sauteed baby artichoke, drizzled with sweet garlic sauce.

Garlic Baby Artichokes

I am a potato lover and had I eaten these blindfolded, I would have thought – based merely on the taste – that I was savoring some very buttery potatoes… superbly done!

We each followed the appetizer with a sushi rolls (who would have believed, less than six month ago, that I would EVER touch fish based sushi?!?!?).

Daniel had the Red Dragon Roll, a spicy tuna roll with wonton crisps on top. He liked the nice contrast between the roll texture and the chipped wonton crisps. Though it came in a nicely sized portion, Danny said he could continue eating more and more of it.

I had the colorful Rainbow Roll, a california roll with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and white fish. An artistically presented dish, did not taste fishy at all, a wonderful amalgam where each ingredient was subtle enough to allow the others to shine through to create a wonderful, perfect, combination of flavors. We each washed it down with a delightful 2007 Herzog Chardonnay.

For the main dish, he continued to a delicious Beef Wellington. It came with a grilled filet mignon with asparagus, garlic demi sauce and mushroom duxelles, wrapped in puff pastry.

Beef Wellington

While he’s not normally a fan of Beef Wellington, he felt he would order this particular version again. He found the meat tender, juicy, perfectly cooked with a nice shade of of light pink in the center. What made it so different was the delicate sauce of ground mushrooms with a touch of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Daniel couldn’t stop raving about it!

I ordered a Filet Mignon, which came with a black trumpet (mushrooms) brandy cream sauce  (delicious!!!!) and French fries. Tender and juicy, superbly cooked to medium state. I paired it with a 2006 Benyamina The Cave. This blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, aged in a three hundred year old cave in the heart of the Carmel mountains and the Filet… ah, a marriage made in heaven!

We finished this royal repast with an excellent pareve capuccino and a Blueberry Cheesecake

.

Delicious pareve cheesecake

It was hard to believe, there was no real cheese inside. Delicate but full of flavor, even without the blueberry it would still have been outstanding.

We were pleased to see that La Carne Grill does not rest on its past laurels, Chef Angel Ramirez and his stuff worked hard to produce their very best still. There is no question I must bring SYR soon, I know she’ll love it!

CS

La Carne Grill on Urbanspoon

03
Jun
10

Basil – Pizza & Wine Bar


At the edge of Crown Height’s Jewish neighborhood, we walked through the tall glass paned doors of Basil Pizza and Wine Bar (270 Kingston Ave; Brooklyn, NY 11213; Telephone: 718.285.8777). We were greeted by the lovely homey smells coming from their large wood oven, clearly center staged by design, partnered with an open bar and cooking area. Soft relaxing Latin music permeated a high vaulted room adorned with 13 honey jar shaped glass lanterns hanging at variegated heights back-dropped by a glass fronted honey comb wine casement.  Marble top tables and dark rustic wooden chairs filled the room commodiously, seating 45 comfortably.

Partial view of Basil. Clara Perez, the Manager, taking a breather in one of those rare low traffic moments.

The pizza and wine bar opened its doors in late February of this year. Just a few months in, with an extensive gourmet dairy menu created by his predecessor, Chef Adam  (who started his culinary training in Italy’s Costa D’Amalfi – then the restaurant’s sous-chef – was suddenly asked to take the helm as chef de cuisine.  Like the young Luciano Pavoratti in February 1965 – who was asked to replace the regular tenor – in an evening’s fateful  performance (Donizzetti’s Lucia de Lamermoor) at the Greater Miami Opera, young Chef Adam stepped up to the plate prevailing successfully without missing a single high note apparently, for he served up dish after dish of consistently delicious Basil favorites.

We began this, our latest restaurant adventure, with their Wild Mushroom Pizza made with Goat Cheese, Mozzarella and Truffle Oil, we took a side dish of their signature Basil Fries, sprinkled with Fresh Parmesan aside a  Garlic-Truffle Mayo Dip- clearly – not for the faint hearted.  Both were delicious.  The thin crusted pizza dough (made with imported Italian flour) was terrific, as were the wild mushrooms and goat cheese topping. CS predictably downed a respectable number of fries, loving the crispy strips dipped in truffle mayo. We both opted for Tishbi’s Chenin Blanc to accompany our meal. It was perfect for the table fare and the balmy summer afternoon. I had a respectable Arugula and Beets Salad topped with medallions of warm goat cheese sprinkled with pine nuts and a truffle vinaigrette.

CS, gnocchi Gnostic that he is, couldn’t help but devour the Goat Cheese Gnocchi Gratin rich with Tomatoes, Spinach and Parmesan Bread Crumbs. He found it flavorful, authentic Italian Campagna, done to perfection! We sampled three more mains; spinach ricotta dumplings, striped bass, and a saffron risotto.  I went for their Striped Bass, with Charred Fennel, Pea Risotto and Meyer Lemon Cream. Presentation was outstanding as you can see from the pictures below (we had a very, very tough time settling on only three photos of the dishes!).  The charred fennel was set like a sail atop a perfectly cooked striped bass a sea in a gustable green pea risotto. The Spinach and Ricotta Dumplings with Melted Mozzarella were ambrosial- especially with the enfolded Tomatoes  Roasted for 24 hours in Balsamic Vinegar, fennel seeds and just the right touch of chili flakes. Basil buys mozzarella curd and stretches it on location, enhancing the flavor that much more.  The Saffron Risotto with Forest Mushrooms, Grilled White Asparagus, was quite aromatic. The forest mushrooms and white asparagus were savory & toothsome, though at this point we were quite full.

Goat Cheese Gnocchi Gratin

Stiped Bass, with Charred Fennel, Pea Risotto and Meyer Lemon Cream

Saffron Risotto, with Forest Mushrooms, Grilled White Asparagus, Peas and Parmesan

We’ll have to come back and meet their pastry chef, Ehud Ezra; word on the street is that he is an amazing talent.  A graduate of the Institute for Culinary Education, he trained at Oceana in Manhattan and was Pastry Chef for several years at Whole Foods (among other prestigious establishments), before coming to Basil, we tasted his Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cheese Cake served with Turkish Fig Puree and Melon. He’s there at 5:00 am preparing his croissants and other pastries, opening for breakfast service at 7:30 am. Chef Adam also treated us to a tasting of his home-made colorful Sorbet Trio and Basil Ice Cream (made from basil, you read it right!). Yummmm!

Sitting on the cusp of this Lubavitch neighborhood, Basil stands at the edge of new cuisine and ambiance territory.  The reluctant humble yet flight worthy fledgling chef and his team run a successful operation with the help of their warm friendly manager Clara Perez, whose respect and reverie for the Lubavitch community is admirable. The convergence of crossed cultures amongst their staff and the harmonious blend of clientele dining together with Basil’s good food its nucleus, is nothing short of chevlei mashiach amazing. The obstacles were many; it shouldn’t work but it does, remarkably so! Some places are just plain blessed that way.

SYR

Basil on Urbanspoon

18
Dec
09

Somewhere in Marrakech


Just missing the story tellers, local souk and snake charmers, I walked into mystical Morocco when I entered Darna (600 Columbus Ave – North East corner of 89th; New York 10024; Telephone: 212.721.9193), right here in New York City, in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Magically transported to the heart of Fez, Rabat, Marrakech or perhaps Casablanca and Rick’s Café Américain… I expected to hear the echo of Ilsa’s voice asking Sam: “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’”

I arrived at Darna as they began dinner service. Carlos tastefully arranged a corner table for me while Katja navigated me through the extensive menu of surprisingly well priced fare.

I started with a Humus plate, which came with a zaatar (hyssop) pita and mixed greens.

Deliciously flavorful, it was followed by Moroccan Cigars with accompanying greens and tomato flower garnish atop a Tehina Sauce.

The meat filled cigars were crispy on the outside, tender and savory on the inside; a perfect blend of flavors.

Darna’s Stuffed Chicken was the main course, a whole roasted Cornish hen stuffed with prunes, apricots, raisins, mushrooms and almonds with a side of  Couscous (their signature dish!) topped with string beans and carrots.

The stuffed hen was tender and superb in taste; the side dish delicious! The meal was accompanied by a delightful 2007 Barkan Pinot Noir.

Darna means “our home” in Moroccan Arabic. The time went by too quickly; the homey food, the polite and friendly staff, the cozy beautifully appointed authentic Moroccan décor, the soft Moroccan music certainly made me feel like a valued guest at the home of some trusted old friends…truly a hidden precious jewel in Manhattan!

To borrow a line from the movie Casablanca, “Luis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” I’ll be back!

CS

16
Dec
09

Chef’s Guest


This past Thursday, December 10th, I had the pleasure of being the exclusive guest of Chef David Kolotkin at Prime Grill. As I’ve mentioned in past postings,  this eatery is one of my favorite meat restaurants.

A partial view of Prime Grill

Chef David’s special menu did not disappoint. I started the meal with a House Cured Duck “Prosciutto” served with light frisee, dried fruit, almonds and a citrus soy reduction.

House Cured Duck "Prosciutto"

I found it delightful, subtly tart, with the individual flavors coming to the fore with each bite.

The House Potato Gnocchi with Duck Sauce followed next, served with tomato in a delicate herb sauce. It looked blissfully tasty and tasted even better. It left a very pleasant, unusual, aftertaste.

House Potato Gnocchi

The third course was  Southern Style Veal Sweetbreads & Grilled Tongue; which came with home-style grits, collard greens and a piquant horseradish coulis.

Southern Style Veal Sweetbreads & Grilled Tongue

The synchronicity of flavors was superb, but merely part of the buildup to the crescendo of the main dish, a 60 Day Dry Aged Reserve Steak. It was served with truffle scallion and whipped potato. Personally, I prefer my steak medium well done, but Chef David insisted I order it medium. He was right. It was tender, juicy and just perfect – in every sense of the word!

I sipped a very nice 2008 Teal Lake Shiraz throughout the four courses. When I first came the Chef asked me what I would like, I told him to surprise me. And he did, deliciously, scrumptuously so. The meal was fit for a very fortunate king or… this most fortuitous food critic.

CS

08
Dec
09

For Your Eyes and Palate Only!


On December 3rd, last Thursday, the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce held a full day conference in the Wall Street area of Manhattan at 55 Broad Street. Many distinguished American and Israeli business leaders and professionals (in a variety of disciplines) were in attendance. Israel’s Minister for Infrastructure (Uzi Landau) was keynote speaker. The Governor of the Bank of Israel, Dr. Stanley Fischer, was among the many notable speakers and workshop moderators. Subjects ranged from Education to Health, to discussions of the many challenges the US and Israel face in the current global climate.

At 12:30pm there was a networking dairy lunch. Who would the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce use for a caterer, a caterer that could provide a delicious, nutritious feast  for the palate and the eyes? u café, of course!!

The photo doesn't give you a true idea of size... these cheese sandwiches were mouthwatering big!!!

Certainly there was plenty more to eat, look at the colors and textures…

Healthy, nourishing and beautiful to look at. Who can ask for more?

Salads were plentiful, all colors, for every taste…

Pasta!

And the fruit platters? Sheer artistry and super fresh!!!

I get hungry just looking at these kiwis

Two long tables filled with sandwiches, salads, soups, hot dishes and fruit platters… Ahhh, the presentation! Deeeelicious!! Catering in style!!!

CS




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